Third measles case confirmed: Cantabrians warned to be vigilant

Monday February 12, 2018

​Another case of measles has been confirmed in Canterbury with public health officials urging the community to be extra vigilant, and get vaccinated.

An 18 year-old woman is the third person in a fortnight to be diagnosed with the highly contagious virus.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says the woman visited Christchurch Hospital’s Emergency Department on Saturday 10th  February 2018 and again on Sunday 11th  February 2018.

Patients and visitors who are not fully vaccinated with MMR and were in the waiting room any time at the weekend after 10.00am on Saturday 11th are being urged to contact their own General Practice team and get vaccinated immediately.

Staff who were in the area at the time are also being notified. People born before 1969 are considered immune and need not get vaccinated.

Investigations show the 18 year-old also attended a college for two days last week, and fellow attendees have been notified.

Community and Public Health is praising the college’s record keeping which has enabled them to swiftly identify unvaccinated individuals who may have come into contact with the virus.

An 11 year-old child who was confirmed with measles last week is now recovering at home.

Unvaccinated students at the school and at a church the child attended have been sent directives to remain at home for the rest of this week.

A 30 year-old man who was the first case confirmed in Christchurch this year, has since recovered.

Investigations show the first case and the most recent case happened to be in the hospital’s Emergency Department at the same time late last month, and Dr Humphrey says this shows just how infectious the virus is.

“The measles virus spreads easily from person to person through the air, via breathing, coughing and sneezing. It starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. This is followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Complications include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain and damage to the eyes.”

It can take up to 3 weeks for symptoms to appear, and people are being urged to phone their own family doctor/general practice team 24/7 for #carearoundtheclock if they are concerned.

Dr Humphrey says it’s important people with symptoms don’t visit GP rooms or after-hours clinic - but phone first for advice as the disease can be spread in waiting rooms.

“Measles cannot be treated once you get it so the only way to protect yourself is to be fully vaccinated,” says Dr Humphrey. “People are only considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine and/or have had a measles illness previously and/or were born before 1969.”

Download an information sheet for further information on measles.

Fast Facts on Measles

  • Measles is highly contagious. If one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.
  • It can take up to 3 weeks for symptoms to appear. You should phone your family doctor/general practice team 24/7 if you are concerned. If it’s after-hours a nurse will answer the call and advise what to do and where to go if you need to be seen.
  • Measles cannot be treated once you get it so the only way to protect yourself is to be fully vaccinated.  People are only considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine and/or have had a measles illness previously and/or were born before 1969.
  • Adults born before 1969 are considered immune to measles because the virus is so infectious and a measles vaccine was not available in New Zealand until 1969.
Page last reviewed: 13 February 2018
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